The Workforce Policy Environment

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While there are many factors which will influence policy development in supporting people to take up and keep a job, the Government has signalled three key areas of policy focus to be considered when designing polices and strategies.

First, the Government is committed to improving employment outcomes and economic security for those people who historically have faced workforce barriers, including:

  • Increasing women’s participation as an economic and social priority
  • Reducing inequality in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s employment outcomes under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap
  • Reducing barriers to the employment of people with disability under Australia’s Disability Strategy and the Disability Employment Strategy.

Second, to ensure those industries central to boosting Australia’s sovereign capability and economic future — including defence, advanced manufacturing, cyber security, critical minerals, clean energies, technologies, and space sectors — have the skilled workers they need to grow, particularly in education in science, technology, education, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

And finally, to ensure Australia’s care and support workforce has the capacity and capability to meet the needs of our ageing population and people with disability. The ratio of working-age people to those over 65 is expected to fall from 4.0 to 2.7 over the next 40 years.7 And over the next five years, one in four new jobs will be in Health Care and Social Assistance, reflecting population change as more of the baby boomer generation reaches age 65.8

Key areas of Government focus

  1. Increase the workforce participation and economic security of:
    1. Indigenous Australians
    2. People with disability
  2. Ensure a skilled workforce is available to support critical sovereign capability and Australia's economic future, including in the defence, cyber security, modern manufacturing, critical minerals, technology, and space sectors
  3. Grow the care and support workforce to meet the needs of the ageing population and people with disability

The current policy environment needs coordination

A broad range of workforce policies, programs and initiatives have already been implemented by Australian and state and territory governments, together with other stakeholders, to address workforce issues. This includes the significant policy and programs introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Due to the number of initiatives though, the landscape is complex and can be difficult to navigate.

In addition to initiatives that address economy-wide issues, sector-specific workforce strategies have also been introduced, or are under development across Government, targeting workforce issues specific to certain sectors. These have been developed without the benefit of an overarching framework and not always adjusted as circumstances change, such as with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Building a picture of training and workforce initiatives across human services

Within the human services sector, there are a range of workforce and training initiatives, aimed at different audiences, delivered by different organisations. This suggests there is complexity for employers as they try to navigate and get best value from Australia’s training system, which presents barriers to taking a leadership position in training and workforce development.

Multiple workforce initiatives are already in place

541 workforce and training initiatives identified across human services.

Source: Human Services Skills Organisation analysis

7 The Treasury, 2021 Intergenerational Report

8 The Treasury, 2021 Intergenerational Report; National Skills Commission, Employment Projections to November 2026